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IGF-1: Fundamental for Muscle Growth | Creatine Blog

IGF-1: Fundamental for Muscle Growth

Several key growth factors and hormones control muscle development. Of these, testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are extremely important.

Testosterone & IGF-1 Stimulate Muscle Growth

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that triggers the reading of genes coding for proteins essential for muscle development. By mechanistic contrast, IGF-1 promotes the physical elaboration of these proteins once their genes have been read. Hence, the participation of both these myogenic (muscle generating) agents is needed for optimal muscle development.

LH & GH Mobilize Testosterone & IGF-1, Respectively

Upstream of muscle, two hormones are responsible for activating testosterone and IGF-1 expression. Luteinizing hormone (LH) released from the anterior pituitary (a gland located at the base of our brains) causes the testicles of a male to produce testosterone, which is then released into the blood stream for broad distribution to the body’s musculature. On the other hand, Growth hormone (GH) also released from the anterior pituitary causes the liver to produce IGF-1 similarly for systemic distribution.

LH & GH Release Are Induced by Exercise

Both LH (testosterone releaser) and GH (IGF-1 releaser) are anabolic with reference to skeletal muscle, since they ultimately increase the production of proteins needed for muscle maturation. Moreover, exercise further augments the release of LH and GH from the anterior pituitary. This combination of effects explains why testosterone and IGF-1 play a critical role in muscle growth in response to training. Importantly, this metabolic scenario is short circuited in the elderly.

Revising the IGF-1 Dogma

It was once thought that the only way to produce IGF-1 was in response to growth hormone released from the anterior pituitary gland. This dogma needs to be revised, however, since it has now known that skeletal muscle can produce its own allotment of IGF-1 (for local, not systemic, use) in response to appropriate stimuli. One such stimulus that incites muscle cells to directly produce IGF-1 is exercise. Another surprising stimulus that causes muscle to produce IGF-1 will be discussed shortly…

Exercise Also Stimulates IGF-1 Production

Exercise thus provokes the release GH from the anterior pituitary, which then stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1 for long-range action. Exercise, however, also causes muscle cells to produce their own IGF-1 for local (purely muscular) use.

Learn what environmental factors (exercise, nutrition, etc…) influence the release GH (and hence, IGF-1…) at the following link:

New Research: Creatine Directly Stimulates IGF-1 Production

Recent scientific research has now shown that creatine also stimulates skeletal muscle cells to produce IGF-1 in the absence of GH. More importantly, creatine exerts this effect independently of exercise as well. That is, simply raising muscle cells in plastic dishes (and hence, away from the central nervous commands to move) and adding creatine to their surrounding environment, causes them to produce IGF-1; again, without the participation of GH. This IGF-1 is then released locally to stimulate neighboring muscle cells into forming force-generating muscle fibers.

It thus appears that creatine alone, without the assistance of GH or exercise, is able to stimulate muscle cells to produce IGF-1. The implications of this finding are enormous… Concisely, individuals that are restricted in movement due to injury or disease might benefit from creatine supplementation as a result of its ability to help retain muscle mass.

How creatine stimulates muscular IGF-1 production is explained at the following link:

Muscular Dystrophy

Reduced levels of IGF-1 also characterize certain forms of Muscular Dystrophy, raising the intriguing possibility that creatine supplementation may be then used as an adjuvant treatment for these disorders. This possibility has not escaped the attention of scientific funding agencies as is described in the following link and will be the topic of a future post.

Learn how creatine supplementation might be used to combat the debilitating symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders at the following link:


As eluded to earlier, the major cause of muscle loss in the elderly (a clinical condition known as sarcopenia) is a decline in IGF-1 and testosterone with advanced age. Creatine supplementation may then be a way to partially offset muscle loss in the elderly. In a sense, creatine supplementation may help keep us young…

Learn how creatine supplementation might help counteract the characteristic loss of muscle mass in the elderly at the following link:

Immobilization Atrophy

Immobilizing a limb (as when placed in a cast) also causes a form of muscle loss, a process known as disuse atrophy. Importantly, creatine supplementation has also been shown to alleviate some of the muscle damage caused by limb immobilization. This will be covered in a subsequent post. Stay tuned…

To conclude, it was once thought that creatine’s only benefit was to increase energy availability during strenuous exercise. It is now becoming clear, however, that creatine possesses other provocative (previously hidden) benefits that will have even greater ramifications for muscle development; the ability to locally produce IGF-1 is just one…

More background to this post can be found in my creatine guide:

Is creatine too good to be true? Read about its validated side effects at the following link:

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  1. Posted December 17, 2008 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Nice post.

  2. Growth Hormone
    Posted December 17, 2008 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Great post. Growth hormone play major role in our body for good health.

  3. Posted March 6, 2009 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    This would be of great help for the beginners in body building. Thanks for the information.


  4. Posted July 9, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    thanks very much for the above information but i also think that with the use of natural drugs it will helps to enhance the growth and the developement of the body. u can know more on natural drugs and muscles by visiting http://www/ and

  5. Posted August 2, 2010 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    Wow this is some really great information! Thanks for providing such detail.

  6. Posted August 5, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the information regarding testosterone!

  7. Posted September 7, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Creatine effects are numerous and can be both good or bad depending on how you use this supplement.  The creatine effect is something that many people enjoy yet don’t understand.  The beneficial effects of creatine are increased strength, increased stamina, increased satellite cell production, and even a reduction in myostatin, which is the enzyme that reduces muscle growth!  These effects are generally without any downside, if used properly.

  8. Posted September 23, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this very interesting post. The fact that participation of both myogenic agents is needed for optimal muscle development was fascinating. Thanks again and keep up the great work.

  9. Posted October 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    From my experience i based on suplements which working with testosterone. But from this article i realise and discovered new ways, so thank you.

  10. Posted October 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I foggoten, do you know some of natural ingredient’s for bodybuilding?

  11. Posted December 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this article, now i realise my misteakes, I wish I will soon have my perfect body. Meaby do you know how to train chest in home?

  12. Posted December 31, 2010 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Interesting information on creatine. I wonder if there has ever been any studies on creatine’s long term effect, if any. I’ve heard rumors it too much is taken it can be hard on the liver. I personally have used creatine and I know that I can lift heavy weights at a longer period of time and I think this is due to creatine’s reaction in the body as noted in this article. Thank you for all the good information.


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